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Personal profile

Research interests

I was born and raised on the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland. In my spare time, I enjoy playing tuba in local orchestras and brass bands around Bristol as well as playing football with a local Saturday team.

I graduated from the University of Dundee in 2019 with a first class honours degree in pharmacology and I was awarded the School of Life Sciences Pharmacology Honours Prize for best A-grade honours student in pharmacology. During my 4 years at the University of Dundee I was awarded two prestigious scholarships, the Sir James Black, and Drug Discovery Unit scholarships. These scholarships allowed me to undertake two ten-week laboratory placements which utilised cell culture and proteomics, and bio-layer interferometry fragment screening, respectively. After these experiences, I was certain that research was my future career, however, I was not certain of the area of research I wished to pursue yet.

During my honours project, I found my true passion which is neuroscience. My honours project enabled me to gain a further 3 months of laboratory experience utilising my previous skills in proteomics, but also allowed me to learn new techniques such as electrophysiology and animal handling.

Since then, I have been working under Professor Tony Pickering and Dr Jim Dunham at the University of Bristol, where my research centres around pain. I primarily work on peripheral nerve electrophysiology, both developing novel tools for it and using them to understand transduction of noxious stimuli.

I utilise mouse teased-fibre electrophysiological recordings in the skin-nerve preparation to understand the transduction of mechanical, thermal, and chemical irritant pain. Using this technique, I can take recordings at single nociceptor resolution allowing for in-depth classification of nociceptor subtypes. This provides a transnational test bed for pain transduction studies which can be mirrored in humans. In addition to working on mouse peripheral nerve electrophysiology, I am regularly involved in human peripheral nerve recordings. Human microneurography is an electrophysiological technique which can be used to record single nociceptor response in vivo. I contribute to this through controlling data acquisition during experiments and conducting pre-clinical testing for novel research methods.

Furthermore, my doctoral training partnership allows me to collaborate with expert bioinformaticians at Eli Lilly. Through this, I endeavour to use big data to help understand genetic associations with pain phenotypes, and whether mutations in pain transduction machinery are associated with disease.

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